Take cautious approach to ACCC voluntary interviews

26-April-2013 Fraud and Insolvency By admin

If you are the director of a company, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) may at some point request you attend a “voluntary interview”.

If a breach of what was known as the Trade Practices Act is alleged, the ACCC now has a range of investigatory powers it can use to discover potential breaches. The ACCC also has the power to seek new penalties for breaches.

Streeterlaw principal Mark Streeter said company directors need to understand their rights if requested by the ACCC to attend a “voluntary interview”.

“Business owners are strongly recommended to seek professional legal advice in relation to any alleged breaches of unconscionable conduct, misleading and deceptive conduct, as well as consumer protection laws,” Mr Streeter said.

“While we strongly recommend assisting government authorities with their enquiries and believe that the truth is the best defence, all business owners have the right not to incriminate themselves. They may potentially be waiving these rights by providing evidence voluntarily.”

There have been some recent changes to Australian Consumer Law. These include: 

  • new  unfair contract terms legislation;
  • new enforcement powers and remedies for the ACCC;
  • a new product safety system; and
  • changes to standardise consumer protection laws across Australia.

The new enforcement powers gained by the ACCC are:

  • public warning powers;
  • substantiation notices; and
  • infringement notices.

If business owners feel they may be the subject of an ACCC investigation, please contact our office immediately to arrange for a Case Appraisal Conference to discuss and advise you on:

  • Your compliance with the Australian Consumer Law;
  • Your rights, duties and obligations; and
  • How to respond to a Notice received from the ACCC.

Contact Streeterlaw’s Evatt Styles for further information on (02) 81970105 or by email at Evatt.Styles@streeterlaw.com.au

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